Oklahoma's Own In Focus: State Lawmakers File Distance Learning Bill For Schools To Regulate Virtual Learning Days

The proposal from Edmond Republican Senator Kristen Thompson and Tuttle Republican Senator Lonnie Paxton would mandate public schools report virtual learning days within 72 hours. It would also give the state education department the power to deny a virtual day if it doesn't meet the state's criteria.

Tuesday, January 23rd 2024, 10:17 pm



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Two members of the Oklahoma Legislature filed a bill to limit distance learning in public schools.

The proposal from Edmond Republican Senator Kristen Thompson and Tuttle Republican Senator Lonnie Paxton would mandate public schools report virtual learning days within 72 hours. It would also give the state education department the power to deny a virtual day if it doesn't meet the state's criteria.

The legislation only allows virtual days if there is bad weather, a lack of teachers due to illness, or building issues.

One of the bill's sponsors says not only is the quality of education lower when kids learn virtually, but distance learning days stress her out as a parent of three.

How do Oklahomans feel about virtual learning?

Virtual learning is the preferred method for one grandparent News On 6 spoke with.

She says her grandkids grew up around the internet and believes the state should expand virtual learning.

Looking back more than five decades, Lena Zeidler graduated high school after several extra days extended her senior year.

“We had snowstorms and we ended up having to go on Saturdays. And a lot of the kids weren't happy, but we still, you know, we had to go to extended school,” Lena Zeidler said.

She’s been watching her grandchildren when schools were closed the past couple of weeks, but classes remained in session through virtual learning.

“I think for the kids overall, for their credits and for the stability to be able to complete it would be better. It's very helpful,” Lena Zeidler said.

Zeidler also says she's seen her grandkids help each other at home.

“My grandson's home right now. My granddaughter is younger. She needs help, but when she gets older, she'll be able to handle it once he graduates,” Lena Zeidler said.

And as for the quality of learning.

“I think the technology would help them because that's where they're going anyway,” Lena Zeidler said. “And the quality of the teaching is up to the teacher in the school system.”

Broken Arrow Public Schools has pre-scheduled eight virtual days throughout the school year on Fridays that are outside the guidelines proposed by the two lawmakers.

"All of the teachers provide the assignments to the students on Thursdays so students can make sure they can ask questions,” BAPS Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Peterson said.

What are Oklahoma school policies for remote learning versus canceling school?

Broken Arrow also talked about using remote learning instead of snow days.

BAPS says parents told the district they'd prefer no school instead of distance learning due to winter weather, so that's the district's plan.

Union Public Schools says it also cancels classes due to snow or ice instead of going virtual.

TPS told News On 6 it does not have a policy to determine when it does virtual days instead of canceling classes.

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